One of my husband's long-time friends decorates his house and yard with an obscene display of lights every year - not obscene in the sense that they're not suitable for family viewing, but because of the amount of power that they consume.
His bill electric bill literally quadruples for the month - the meter spins so fast that it you can see the consumption racking up in real time. Cars line up to view his house for weeks leading up to Christmas.
Since I've been writing this column, much attention has been focused each year on how to make holiday displays like this more efficient. Last year, Woodstock, N.Y., lit up a solar Menorah, while a number of companies have touted the virtues of switching from incandescent to LED lighting strands.
Even the White House is getting into the act: this year, the National Christmas Tree has been lit up with thousands of LED lights that consume about 80 percent less energy than the technology used in the past.
How much less? Try 4,000 watts for the latest LEDs compared with five times that (20,000 watts) for incandescent technology.
This year's tree officially lit up earlier this week uses 450 strands of LED lights and 120 start-shaped LED ornaments that will keep the tree sparkling both day and night. The heirloom tree topper adorning the top has been retrofitted with a commercial grade GE TetraMAX system traditionally used for commercial signage applications.